Staff in youth detention centers and assisted services homes, exposed to threats and violence

16 January, 2024

In youth detention centers (HVB) and assisted services homes (LSS), workplace accidents caused by threats and violence are more common than in any other sector. Staff tend to normalise threats and violence as part of the job, while employers are not proactive enough in preventing risky incidents. Providing staff with safe alarms is part of the solution, but it is of little help if training and procedures for safety are lacking.

“It is a serious health and safety problem, and one that is becoming more widespread. The trend is worrying. Employers in youth detention centers and assisted services homes (LSS) homes must take the problems more seriously and implement preventive measures against threats and violence.”

Peter Burman, project owner of the inspection programme (Arbetsmiljöverket kraftsamlar mot hot och våld i arbetslivet – Arbetsmiljöverket (

In 2018, the Swedish Work Environment Authority initiated a review of youth detention centers (HVB) homes and assisted services (LSS) homes, as it was found that workplace accidents caused by threats and violence are more common here than in all other industries.

The Swedish Work Environment Authority’s inspection included reviewing whether the employer has a preventive and systematic work environment programme against threats and violence and whether the employer complies with work environment legislation. The results of the review have not yet been published, but in March last year Eva Karsten, inspector and project manager at the Swedish Work Environment Authority, told SVT Uppsala that one problem they see is that employers do not carry out risk assessments based on the employees’ work environment. It is also common for staff to normalise threats and violence as part of the job (LSS and HVB stand out in threat and violence statistics | SVT News).

A secure alarm chain

Many organisations are in need of, and obliged by the Swedish Work Environment Authority to have alarm solutions for staff in vulnerable environments. However, developments in HVB homes and LSS accommodation show that an alarm system does little if staff are not trained in risk assessment, reporting threats and knowing when to use the alarm, how it works and what is expected in the event of an incident.
Here we outline what is required to create a safe and secure alarm chain.

A safe and secure alarm chain consists of three key elements: Technology, People, Organisation.

The technology
As a user of personal alarms, you should place high demands on the supplier as the technology plays a major role in how well your alarm chain will work. Make sure to do a good preliminary work before you decide which security system you buy.

The people
For a technically safe and easy-to-use alarm to work optimally, staff must be continuously trained in the practical and theoretical handling of the alarm. With training, staff gain knowledge about the situations in which the alarm should be activated and can thus eliminate uncertainty, anxiety and error management that can lead to not pressing the alarm button when they really should. Furthermore, staff will understand what a process can look like and what is expected of the person who pressed the alarm, as well as the person who receives it.

The organisation
It is the organisation’s ultimate responsibility to ensure that both people and technology are taken care of. Therefore, make sure to set up clear procedures and standards related to your security alarms. Among other things, you should have regular functional checks and ensure that these are followed. Train your staff continuously and practice using your alarms under stressful conditions. Make sure that training materials are well documented and easily accessible to staff. Similarly, instructions should be created around procedures and ensuring that all staff know where these are.

We help you along the way by outlining the features you should look for when choosing a personal alarm.

  • Make sure the alarm button stands out from other communication options.
  • You should be able to activate the alarm quickly regardless of how you choose to wear it on your body. The alarm should therefore be placed on the device so that you can easily reach it, or be large enough to be easily activated.
  • If you work in harsh environments – make sure the alarm is shock, moisture and dust resistant.
  • The personal alarm must be reliable. Therefore, evaluate the pros and cons of alternative radio technologies and their maintenance.
  • The alarm should be able to send position information for faster and more efficient safety.
  • Consider whether you want the possibility of speech.
  • The message to the recipient should be clear. He/she should be able to act quickly on the alarm without any doubt.